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City to cover solar costs after legal claim by Chase Glendale Green

November 24, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

A business on San Fernando Road that installed solar panels will receive about $1.1 million from the city over five years to make good on a contract that was signed back in 2011, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Chase Glendale Green Services LLC had signed the contract with the city through its solar panel incentive program in October 2011 that promised the company about $225,000 a year after it installed a 351-kilowatt-per-hour solar panel system at its 4680 San Fernando Road facility.

The company, which installed the panels last year, was supposed to receive a payment a year after they were affixed. However, when the first check arrived from the city this past June, it was $125,000 short.

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Mark Worthge, the attorney for Chase Glendale Green Services, sent a letter in August asking city officials to pay the missing amount, but he didn't get a response for months. Then in October, he filed a legal claim with the city.

"In the absence of a response from your office and the failure of the city to honor its obligations under the agreement, Chase is left with no alternative to protect its rights," Worthge wrote to Glendale Water & Power General Manager Steve Zurn in an October letter attached to the claim for damages.

At a City Council meeting this week, council members agreed to fill the gap from the first payment and fork over $225,000 for four more years after discussing the item behind closed doors.

The check was written for the decreased amount because in 2011 the council capped Glendale Water & Power's solar incentive program for businesses at $100,000 per approved request because of limited funding.

Despite the restriction, officials signed a contract promising more than the limit to Chase Glendale Green Services, said City Atty. Mike Garcia.

"We applied that cap," Garcia said. "They pointed out that cap didn't apply to them. Once they pointed it out to us, we worked things out."

Glendale Water & Power's Business Solar Solutions Program is not open to new applicants. The utility had budgeted $1.55 million this fiscal year, which began on July 1, for solar incentives. However, because of the popularity of the program, all funding for this year has already been reserved, according to Glendale Water & Power's website.

In October, utility officials closed the waiting list and the program is not set to reopen until July 1, 2014, the website states.

Zurn said he doesn't anticipate the increased payment to Chase Glendale Green Services will have any immediate or long-term impact on solar incentives because the utility had included the higher amount in its budget as a conservative move in case there would be legal action.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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